Day One: Building Bright Futures as Durham Heads Back to School


Day One: Building Bright Futures for Durham’s Children

Herald-Sun, August 28th, 2016

By Heather Cook, Durham Habitat for Humanity

On Monday morning, Durham will be a bustle of new sneakers, bag lunches and yellow busses as the city’s children gear up to start a fresh new school year.

Of the thousands of students that head back to school this week, over 500 of those children will be walking out the doors of homes built by Durham Habitat for Humanity.

It’s easy to forget the struggles that some students face before they even get to the classroom. Things that most of us take for granted like access to food, clothing and safe housing.

When dreaming about her new Habitat home, Isha, age 13 writes:

“I’m happy about our new home because we will feel safe. Also, I’m extra happy because we will get a chance just to go outside and sit on our porch without worrying if we’re gonna get shot. And it’s gonna be more fun to invite people over without being ashamed and just to invite people over in general. And just to have something to call ours.”

Isha currently stays in a 750 square-foot apartment with her mother and her 5 siblings. Their Durham Habitat home is underway and should be ready for them to move in around the first of the year.

On the day I stop by, Isha and her sister Tyjah, 14, are typical teenagers, plopped in front of the T.V. watching Top 40 music videos. We talk about favorite books and subjects in school. We talk about music and Chance the
Rapper’s new album. We talk about school lunches, field trips and friends, the lifelines to every teenager’s educational experience.

When the topic of hopes and dreams come about, they talk at once, eager to share the detailed plans they have started to build for their futures.

Tyjah speaks confidently about her goals to apply to City of Medicine Academy, a school designed to educate students to work in medical care. Her goal is to get into the medical field and, “help people when things aren’t right with them”.

The Holland Family at their Habitat Home Construction Kick Off Event.

Isha wants to open a salon when she graduates high school. She wants to use her money from doing hair, nails and make-up to buy a home and a car. Then, she wants to open additional shops and just “watch them grow”.
Isha goes on to write:

“When I graduate high school, I want to buy a home to be stable.”

We know that children of homeowners are 116 percent more likely to graduate from college compared with children in families who do not own their homes. With just the promise of their new home, Isha and Tyjah are headed off to school this year with a greater sense of certainty and security. 

Every teen should know the confidence that comes from a stable home.

With your support we can work to build a better Durham, where children feel a sense of pride for where they come from, instead of fear or shame.

Make a donation today to Durham Habitat’s “Back To School Challenge” and help us to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Together we can build bright futures for the children of Durham.

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Habitat Success Stories

Anita and her sister thought they were experiencing night sweats but realized that it was raining inside their home. Habitat partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to replace their roof. “I used to go to bed every night and the rain would be all over my face but not anymore. Thank you.”